Spider-Man: Homecoming sets up a lot of major parts of the web-slinger’s world in the MCU – and does that include a version best friend and future Green Goblin Harry Osborn? The film is absolutely full to the brim with important comic characters, ranging from Peter Parker’s school friends – including 1960s stalwarts Liz Allan and Ned Leeds as well as long-standing love interests Betty Brant and “MJ” – to future villains – Vulture is backed up by two Shockers, The Tinkerer and Scorpion – and countless more obscure cases in the background. As such, the most obvious omission is best buddy industrialist-son and future arch-antagonist Harry Osborn.
The immediate explanation for this is that for the third reboot of the character this century, Marvel and Sony wanted to do something fresh. They’ve continually expressed a desire for Homecoming to have previously unseen villains – hence why all every bad guy is a big screen debutant – and even seeding the second Green Goblin would work against that. And avoiding the past is very important for NYC’s glider fiend – at this point he’s severely overdone (he was the villain in three out of five previous films) and the lethargy that smothered pre-MCU Spidey could easily be felt by just mentioning him; nobody wants memories of Dane DeHaan. This will also in part be why Gwen Stacy was absent with only a clothing Easter egg for Betty Brant – after Spider-Man 3 and The Amazing Spider-Man (especially the sequel adapting the iconic The Night Gwen Stacy Died) she’s been plundered for all she’s worth.
But what if Harry is in the film and we just didn’t notice? Green Goblin is Spidey’s arch-nemesis and an essential point in his development – deadly impact on life aside, he’s the ultimate dark mirror – so to not have either father or son version present in what is trying to be the definitive screen take in the character would feel like a real missed opportunity.
Obviously, there isn’t any direct reference to Harry, Norman or Oscorp in the film, but instead we think there are a couple of strong contenders for a Harry Osborn parallel amongst the existing characters who, using the logic of the Homecoming world, could go bad; not Harry per se but something inspired by him. After all, we’ve already seen that long-standing conventions are free-floating – while most characters have a rooted legacy in the comics, the film is more than willing to make variations; the less-bullish Flash, or Michelle “MJ”, or our first Green Goblin candidate.
Is Liz Allan A Future “Green Goblin”?
Liz was introduced as Peter Parker’s primary love interest in Homecoming, so everyone assumed she was simply Liz Allan – an early object of comic Spidey’s affections. However, as the film’s jaw-dropping twist reveals, she’s actually Liz Toomes, daughter of the Vulture. She still pretty much operates as Allan – we get the same heartbreak from Spidey being unable to balance his superheroic and personal life – but the relationship to the supervillain seeds the potential for her to become one herself down the line.
Vulture and Green Goblin are intrinsically different characters, but they do have technological and ideological similarities, especially in the film, which lays the groundwork for Liz to continue Adrian’s legacy. After the events of the movie, she’s moved away from Queens and her father’s locked away in prison. That’s a seismic life change and one she could come to blame on Spider-Man. Kevin Feige’s talked about how the Keaton-at-the-door moment is the turning point of the film, bringing both sides of Peter’s life together, and having Liz turn on her former crush would be the natural thematic extension of that.
The twist on Harry here is that the former friend gone bad in the lineage of their father is a love interest. Given how respectful the film was towards its female characters, treating them considerably less damsel-y than previous iterations, this would be an interesting extension and introduces a fresh challenge for Peter.
The setup of Liz is pretty analogous to Harry, so there’s definitely narrative potential. The only explicit knock against it is that Laura Harrier herself has said she’d like to see Liz develop her Firestar powers like in the comics, which would seem like a step away from this. That said, the actress could be speaking out of turn or perhaps even be unaware of what the writers have in store for her.
Of course, the main drive for the Liz theory is the name change, which could take us down another path; between her and Michelle/MJ, it’s clear that when the filmmakers used different names or held things back it has some greater franchise purpose – and there’s another character whose surname isn’t accounted for.
Next Page: Homecoming's Other Green Goblin Contender
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